Tag Archives: John McCain

The Attack on Patriotism

Why Patriotism and Conservatism have become Synonymous in Contemporary Politics

I am going to deviate from my usual analysis of political issues in the news, and instead discuss a broader issue that has bothered me for years.  The problem is abstract and difficult to summarize, so I will begin by posing a question that I often ask myself.

Patriotism: You're either a conservative Republican or an effing terrorist

courtesy of indrayam.com

What does it mean to be patriotic in America?  Is it an adherence to the principles conceived by our Founding Fathers in the drafting of the Constitution?  Is it the propagation of freedom and equality to every corner of the world?  Does it include the privilege to be contrarian in expressing one’s views without fear of being vilified?

These concepts may once have been almost universally regarded as being elements of patriotism, but this appears to no longer be the case.  They have instead been marginalized by petty novelty gestures.  The contemporary definition of patriotism for many people places greater importance on flying a flag than volunteering in a soup kitchen.  It requires citizens to adopt a jingoistic mindset and repudiate the idea that any other nation could be on par with their own.

It has become a word used to attack a person’s political affiliation.  I have been called unpatriotic for objecting to the war in Iraq, where some individuals have asserted that  my opposition to the war is an act of disloyalty to our soldiers.  I have been called unpatriotic for believing in legislated constraints on business practices, where objectors have asserted that unbridled capitalism is the only way to truly be free in America.  I have been called unpatriotic for suggesting that this nation was not founded on religion, but rather freedom of religion and freedom from religion.

I will put it bluntly.  While almost all Americans consider themselves to be patriotic and place great value on their love of country, in the eyes of many conservatives, only people who think as they do deserve to be called patriots.  This sad truth is evidenced by recent events.

But he’s just too liberal to be an American

President Barack Obama has come under fire on numerous occasions for not being patriotic enough.  Fox News pundits rejoiced when video surfaced of Obama not holding his hand to his heart during the national anthem, claiming it as evidence that he is secretly anti-American.

During the presidential campaign, Sen. John McCain ripped Obama for not wearing an American flag pin on his lapel.  Obama asserted that his rationale for not wearing the pin was that it had become a substitute for “true patriotism.”

I decided I won’t wear that pin on my chest,” said Obama. “Instead, I’m going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testament to my patriotism.”

Shirt reads "The last thing America needs is a President who is ashamed of the American flag: Nobama in 08."

courtesy of conservative-t-shirts.com

His campaign later issued this statement: “We all revere the flag, but Senator Obama believes that being a patriot is about more than a symbol. It’s about fighting for our veterans when they get home and speaking honestly with the American people about this disastrous war.”

When military service just doesn’t cut it

In Obama’s case, the consequences of the attacks were not especially devastating (although they did augment the outlandish claims that he’s an undercover Muslim extremist and foreigner).

However, the outcome for Sen. John Kerry during his 2004 presidential run was a bit more significant when the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT) launched a television attack ad that questioned Kerry’s service record during Vietnam.  The group claimed he was undeserving of his Purple Hearts, Bronze Star and Silver Star medals.  They also attacked his post-war record and accused him of being unpatriotic for protesting the war after his time in the service had ended.

The group’s advertisement was actually created by Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm, a company that creates ads for Republican political candidates.  Investigations into Kerry’s records proved that the claims made by the SBVT were totally unfounded, but enough damage was done to ensure that Kerry could not win the presidency.

The SBVT questioning Kerry’s patriotism likely cost him the presidency.  When Sen. C. Saxby Chambliss questioned Sen. Max Cleland’s patriotism, it nearly cost the man his life.

It’s a bit tougher to claim that this guy didn’t earn his Purple Heart

Max Cleland

courtesy of tulane.edu

Sen. Cleland of Georgia, like Kerry, had received the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Silver Star awards for his courage during the Vietnam War.  Cleland lost both legs and an arm when a grenade exploded by his feet.

Cleland entered politics in 1971 when he won election to the Georgia State Senate.  In 1996, Cleland won a U.S. Senate seat, and remained in that position until he was defeated for re-election in 2002.  He was beaten by Saxby Chambliss, who ran a controversial attack ad that featured Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein and questioned Cleland’s record on issues regarding the war.  The ad implied that Cleland, the Vietnam War vet and triple amputee, was not concerned for America’s safety.

Cleland lost the election, and was driven into a deep depression.  His fiancée left him, and he became a patient once again at Walter Reed Hospital.  There, he “cried uncontrollably for 2 ½ years,” bewildered by the fact that his service to his country had been belittled and his patriotism impugned.  Once he recovered, Cleland published a book entitled “Heart of a Patriot: How I found the Courage to Survive Vietnam, Walter Reed and Karl Rove.”

“Give me liberty, or give me patriotism,” because apparently I can’t have both

Fireworks behind the Washington Monument

courtesy of blogmedown.tv

Thomas Jefferson said that “Patriotism is not a short frenzied burst of emotion, but the long and steady dedication of a lifetime.”  America was not built on sparkling fire-crackers, homemade apple pie and magnetic “support our troops” bumper sticker ribbons.  It was built on the backs of patriots who stood up for their beliefs without admonishing others for theirs; patriots who believed in dying for their country, not just dying for a flag.

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Palin’s New Book Goes Rogue on Truth

Where do the fact checkers begin?

Sarah Palin "Going Rogue"

AP Photo/Harper

Sarah Palin’s highly anticipated book “Going Rogue” is set for release tomorrow and it already has the media in a frenzy. Some contend that the book is a symbolic decree that Palin will seek the presidency in 2012, one commentator calling it “a shot at redemption and revenge.”  Others argue that Palin penned the book as a means to generate some revenue from her prolonged 15-minutes of fame.  Whatever her intentions, there is no denying that the book has people talking, and in most cases, for all the wrong reasons.

Palin makes some serious accusations in “Going Rogue,” including the claim that the McCain campaign billed her $50,000 for the cost of her vetting, botched the handling of her daughter’s pregnancy announcement, and refused her access to the media.  She takes shots at certain members of the media, including Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric, who both played a role with their interviews in deflating the McCain/Palin popularity surge in the polls.  She does, however, thank certain members of the media in her acknowledgments when she thanks them “for not taking our Freedom of the Press for granted, you bold and patriotic, fair and balanced media folks.”  These “professionals” include Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, Bill Kristol, Glenn Beck, Greta Van Susteren, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

Hey Sarah, did your nose just grow?

The Associated Press snagged a copy of the book prior to release.  Here is an excerpt from the AP’s review:

“Ignoring substantial parts of her record if not the facts, she depicts herself as a frugal traveler on the taxpayer’s dime, a reformer without ties to powerful interests and a politician roguishly indifferent to high ambition.”

Included in the review is a rundown of some of the more “blatant” factual liberties taken in the book.  Among them:

  • Palin claims frugality was always a key concern when traveling as governor.  She fails to mention the four nights she and her daughter spent at a $707 per night hotel in New York while visiting for a five-hour women’s leadership conference.  She also billed Alaska more than $20,000 for her children’s travel, including events where they hadn’t been invited.
  • Palin claims she ran her campaign for governor on small donations, turning back checks from big donors.  Apparently she does not consider the $76,000 donated by Republican Party committees, representing more than half of her campaign funds, to be a big donation.
  • She vehemently opposes taxpayer-financed bailouts, attributing all of them to Obama.  This, in direct contradiction to a statement she made during the vice presidential debate, where she said “it is a time of crisis and government did have to step in.”   In fact, it was McCain who claims to have helped lay the groundwork for the $700 billion federal bailout, which was approved under the Bush Administration.
  • Palin is critical of Obama’s handling of the recession, suggesting he should consider strategies Ronald Reagan used to get the country out of the recession in the early 1980s.  Those strategies, she claims, include “cut(ing) capital gains taxes and slay(ing) the death tax once and for all.”  She fails to consider the fact that the estate tax, or death tax, was not repealed under Reagan, and capital gains taxes are lower now than they were under Reagan.
  • Describing her state as “a practical, libertarian haven of independent Americans who don’t want ‘help’ from government busybodies, Palin expresses her opposition to federal stimulus programs.  She neglects to include the fact that Alaska receives $1.84 for every dollar it pays to Washington in taxes, and is one of the states most dependent on federal subsidies.

Read the rest of the Associated Press report here

Mussolini, Kennedy… Palin?

The cult of personality that is Sarah Palin has blinded too many for too long.  Gone are the days where she can badger media personalities for misrepresenting her words; written statements that have been scanned by countless editors pretty much guarantees that Palin said what she meant to say.  That is what makes this book so disturbing.  It reads like a 400 page excuse. Palin blames everyone else for getting it wrong, yet ironically fails to fact check while casting countless aspersions.

Courtesy of TVguide.com

I find myself dumbfounded that “going rogue” has become Palin’s catchphrase.  Does anyone remember the original context of the attribution?  Palin was said to be going rogue when pundits criticized her off-the-cuff, damaging statements that contributed to the demise of the McCain campaign.  Saturday Night Live satirized it during McCain’s appearance on the show, when Tina Fey (portraying Sarah Palin) proclaimed “I’m going rogue,” and began campaigning for the 2012 presidential election even as the 2008 election was yet to be decided.

Webster’s dictionary defines a “rogue” person as “dishonest or worthless, mischievous, and an individual exhibiting a chance and usually inferior biological variation.”  Palin confounds messages and misrepresents the truth.  Going rogue is not a positive thing in politics for a reason: extremism isn’t popular.  There is a reason only 9 percent say they would definitely vote for Palin in 2012.  Simply stated, she just can’t be trusted.

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